Harvest Gypsies Common Lit.docx - Name: Class: Excerpt from...

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Name:Class:Excerpt from The Harvest GypsiesArticle IBy John Steinbeck 1936John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was an American author who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature. While Steinbeck wasmost popular for his novels, which often focused on agricultural workers in California, he also wrote a series of articleson migrant farm workers for theSan Francisco News. In this excerpt, Steinbeck discusses the role of migrant workers inCalifornia’s agriculture industry. As you read, take notes on the common life and work experiences of migrant farmworkers.[1]At this season of the year, when California's great cropsare coming into harvest, the heavy grapes, the prunes,the apples and lettuce and the rapidly maturing cotton,our highways swarm with the migrant workers, thatshifting group of nomadic,1poverty-stricken harvestersdriven by hunger and the threat of hunger from crop tocrop, from harvest to harvest, up and down the stateand into Oregon to some extent, and into Washingtona little. But it is California which has and needs themajority of these new gypsies.2It is a short study ofthese wanderers that these articles willundertake. There are at least 150,000 homeless"Migrant Worker and Cucumbers, Blackwater, VAWorld is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND2.0."by Bread for themigrants wandering up and down the state, and that is an army large enough to make itimportant to every person in the state.To the casual traveler on the great highways the movements of the migrants are mysterious if they are seen at all,for suddenly the roads will be filled with open rattletrap cars loaded with children and with dirty bedding, with fire-blackened cooking utensils. The boxcars and gondolas on the railroad lines will be filled with men. And then, just assuddenly, they will have disappeared from the main routes. On side roads and near rivers where there is little travelthe squalid, filthy squatters’3camp will have been set up, and the orchards will be filled with pickers and cutters anddriers.The unique nature of California agriculture requires that these migrants exist, and requires that they move about.Peaches and grapes, hops and cotton cannot be harvested by a resident population of laborers. For example, alarge peach orchard which requires the work of 20 men the year round will need as many as 2000 for the brief timeof picking and packing. And if the migration of the 2000 should not occur, if it should be delayed even a week, thecrop will rot and be lost.1 1.Nomadic(adjective):wandering from place to place2."Gypsies" are members of a nomadic ethnic group, also known as the Roma, who originated in South Asia and migrated toEurope; the term is associated with nomads and migrants who move about often.3 3.people who unlawfully occupy a vacant building or unused land1
Thus, in California we find a curious attitude toward a group that makes our agriculture successful. The migrantsare needed, and they are hated. Arriving in a district they find the dislike always meted4out by the resident to the

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